Katrina Van Tassel (Black and White Polonaise - New York) - Sleepy Hollow


AmeCon 2008




This is my dream costume, I've been wanting to make since I first saw the movie. I love Colleen Atwood, I think she's an amazing designer and is the inspiration for my costuming in general. I also adore Christina Ricci and the chracter of Katrina. 'Was it wicked of me?'
Love it!

I began drawing up the pattern, hunting the internet for images of polonaise gowns. I was lucky enough to locate a book when I was in the V&A in london with amazing patterns drafted from actual period garments featured in the exhibitons.
Book is here if anyone is interesting in historical costuming http://www.amazon.com/Patterns-Fashion-1660-1860/dp/089676026X

I started out hunting for fabric for the dress. I really wanted to use a silk, but it was impossible to find anything with a stripe. I longed for the use of a print studio so I could just acid dye print a set of stripes on the gown, with the thin gold stripes also and even get the hand painted effect.

I started out trying to hand paint the silk, which worked really well, using a fabric pen for the outlines I painstakingly drew lines on 6 metres of fabric >.< Colouring them drove me mad however. The silk paint really needed a better carrier, but I didn't have the money to order acid dye and the thickener paste of the chemicals to make the paste. This was frustrating. I worked all of the upper bodice pieces, the stomacher and the sleeves in the silk paint, carefully drawing the gold lines on in a metallic permenant marker. But when it came to the petticoat I had much distress >.< I tried using masking tape so I could more quickly cover the areas, but unfortunately it meant the paint bled slightly, and I could not afford such inperfections. I finally conceded defeat and went hunting for a plain cotton stripe...

The dress was actually easier than I thought to construct, the petticoat is actually very simply made, from two pieces of fabric, stitched together down the selveges. The waist is them carefully pleated and stitched to two ribbons which tie at the sides, the slight gap in the side of the shirt panel is hidden by the overlying fabric of the polonaise, and allows access to hanging pockets, a small flat bag used to carry a ladies necessities before handbags were in use. (I have yet to make one for me, but I am likely to do so, so I have a place for my mobile and money!

The lace is all hand made, I used a layer of white netting over an iron away fabric. I was unsure as to if the netting would melt with the heat needed to disolve the iron away, but after a test discovered I was fine so long as I paid close attention to when the heat was enough to blacken the material. I drew the design on in highlighter pen on the iron away to give me a guide for the free machine stitching of the lace.

The sleeves were fun to do, as the stripes have to match upperfectly down the back seam, and match also down the front seam. I've not worked 2 part sleeves before, but I have used many other patterns so I drafted one and experimented with my toile til I perfected the size. I needed to be tight but with enough give so that I could dance in it. It is intended for the Ball at Ame!

The stripes down the back create a beautiful pattern with the pleating. The style is called en fourreau, with the back bodice and skirt piece cut as one, tapering at the waist with a series of pleats, here accented by the stripes! I really enjoyed this part, as the effect is quite fantastic.

I love how the dress looks, the careful cut of the shoulder actually pulls the shoulders back and helps cup the bust, forcing it upwards. This will have a greater effect when I make the period corset I intend to wear underneath. Hurrah for cleavage! It is strange to wear something cut so low for me, as I have a very short torso, and hence my necklines are usually really high as to not show the top of my bra ^^; the benefits of period corseting is that you can play around far more with such things. I think they are far more adaptable to the varying figures of a lady than modern clothes, which are designed to be flattering only on the thinnest of women. Down with that! Curves I say!!

My wig is ready to be styled, though I have to wait until next week when I'm down at Danov's. I shall get my proper photoshoot done then. I am much excited about this!


ChibiVampireM posted on 24 June, 2008 - 08:23
Oooo very accurate. ^_^

Chii-ren posted on 24 June, 2008 - 11:48
thats amazing, i've always wanted her dress from the film, it looks just like it!

Hexi posted on 24 June, 2008 - 14:51
amazing. i love Coleen Atwood too. her designs are inspiring! i wish i had the skills to make dresses like this! i'm going to buy that book as soon as i get money. ><

Tofu posted on 24 June, 2008 - 16:22
Thankyou! That book really is amazing, there are several more in the series, covering different time periods and also menswear. Highly recommended!!

stripey_dani posted on 24 June, 2008 - 23:05
Amazing... truly amazing! Youre an amazing seamtress!

Chibi posted on 16 July, 2008 - 22:49
Wow Hun you're going to look amazing :3 may I have a dance with you?

Eatmethoubean posted on 5 August, 2008 - 15:07
that is a beautiful dress!!! i cant wait to see you in it with the wig, you're going to look totally edible... :D

Angelphie posted on 17 August, 2008 - 16:30
The amount of work you put into this is astounding, and I really enjoyed reading about your construction and research there. I still can’t get over that fact that you made your own lace, it, and everything else about this dress is completely perfect! You totally did justice to a gorgeous design.

Sephirayne posted on 30 September, 2008 - 06:55
Awesome costume. So great to see the finished costume at Ame.

Captain_Marvelous posted on 22 January, 2009 - 10:57
Wow me and my friend paul just saw this whilst at college ^^ its a really good idea :) cant wait to see it complete it looks amazing so far :)

Telly posted on 4 May, 2011 - 17:44

Siouxsie James posted on 22 March, 2012 - 08:10
omg that's awesome! I'd really like to make this one day it has been a dress my mine since I saw the film. Please lend me your skills lol! >___< Lace looks so close to the original!!!

Amy-Lou posted on 8 May, 2012 - 16:16
My goodness this is incredible, you put so much effort into accuracy. Really interesting to read the how and why behind it :)

Progress Journal

28th July 2012


So I never actually got a photoshoot done of this costume, due to lack of a willing photographer/time/generally being a bit rubbish about getting anything photographed.

And thus I got chatting with the amazing Yuka about all the wonderful things I've made in the years we're known each other and that I STILL hadn't gotten pictures of this dress which she recalled sat in my living room years ago. So she and her lovely gentleman agreed to be so kind as to take some pictures of this dress. Yay!

Four years on and two children later and I was amazed to actually get into this dress at all, though with decidedly more cleavage than originally!

Retiring my photos to make room for lovely pics, but have to save this lovely detailed shot of the painstakingly made lace, of which I am still rather proud.